We are planning a trip to the UK this summer and we will be in London for five days before traveling to Scotland for 5 days. I am traveling with my husband and three children ages 11,7, and 6. I wanted to take the rail up to Scotland, but I have yet to find a train ride that is cheap. I was thinking a coach bus might be an option, but the only way I'll do it, is if it's at night, so we can sleep becuase the trip is 8-9 hours. Is Victoria Bus Station safe at night? Otherwise, I have found that flying is actually cheaper! Another option might be to break up the trip to scotland into two days and stop somewhere along the way, maybe York?
Hi Greta, A train ride will surely be more comfortable than a coach ride. The safety question I can't help, not having done it myself. A 7-day RS tour of London stayed at a B&B nearby to Victoria Coach Station, and I remember seeing a lot of people coming and going no matter when I went by. With 3 kids, I hope you Can find train tickets because York has the National Railway Museum, http://www.nrm.org.uk/ and it's fun! I put in July 3 at http://www.scotrail.co.uk/ and 5 Advance tickets to Edinburgh Waverley at 9am are £138.25 (£103.25 at 8am). Advance tickets lock you into the time/train. I know they go on sale at a certain point before the date. It depends on the date and time between now and then to find the real good value fares. If you look too early, the advance fares won't be there, but if waiting too long, then the fares have gone by. Wow, I put in London Kings Cross to just York on July 3 and there's one advance ticket for 2 adults/3 children under £40. Good luck!
First, have you checked nationalrail.co.uk for tickets? Advance purchase tickets are usually quite reasonable, so I'm surprised that you can't find inexpensive train tickets for the summer. Using the same July 3rd date that Betsey tried, I see tickets for as low as 29.50 GBP. Victoria Coach Stations is fine, but I can't imagine an overnight bus trip would be comfortable.
hi, cheap is relative. you may want to check nationalrail.co.uk for ticket prices/times and such. i bought my tickets from Edinburgh to London and i think it was a direct train with 1 stop and it was like 32 USD in March of last year. The ride took about 4 hours. You have to remember too, that if you fly, theres there cost AND time of going to the airport. Trains from London to Edinburgh leave from central london and is a nice station. I seeing it as one that hasnt traveled by train until then. also, when i stay in London, ive been staying near Victoria rail station and its a nice area. The bus station is a block south and in my opinion (imo) its a safe area. But i will say that im a guy so i maybe biased. happy trails.
Thank you for all your great advice! I put in the dates and times and the website addresses that you guys suggested and I did come up with some cheaper tickets! I don't know why everything was coming up as really expensive before, but I'm glad we can take the train - the kids will be excited! We might still stop in York...It looks like a interesting town.
Grerta, the advice here is really good - I was going to point out the cheaper train tickets as well. The only thing I would add is when you buy specific tickets in advance they are good for that specific train only - don't miss it. Also take the credit card you use to reserve the tickets with because the self serve kiosks in the train station expect you to have the credit card you reserved with. When the countryside is exotic and new the train is great way to travel through the country. Have a great trip!
One other potential way of reducing the cost - Family Railcard (discounts up to 4 adults fares by 34% and 4 child fares by 40%). Costs £28 so need to weigh up the net benefit over all your train travel.
There is a police station right behind the Coach station if that makes you feel better. However the other posters are correct that long on a bus would really be unpleasant. It sounds odd but flying can be cheaper than the Train these days. East coast railways goes out of Kings Cross every half hour all day. You will save by going at off peak times. Also look for flights on Easyjet or BMI, those two airlines won't come up on a US travel sight search. Another idea it might be cheaper to rent a car for one day.
Greta, I've been around the Victoria Coach station both day and night and never had the perception that it was "unsafe". However, as the others have mentioned, taking a Coach on that route is likely not going to be the most pleasant travel experience. Regarding rail trips, I'd suggest looking at the East Coast Rail website. They have London - Edinburgh Fares currently as low as £17 PP (July 6, second class). The actual price will depend on how far in advance you purchase. The trains depart from King's Cross in London and arrive at Edinburgh Waverley. As I recall, you can purchase tickets up to 12-weeks in advance and achieve significant savings. You might find it helpful to have a look at the excellent seat61.com website, as there's an enormous amount of good information there. A stop in York for a night or two would definitely be worthwhile (IMO). It's a beautiful and historic city. Be sure to visit the York Minster, the Shambles and also the incredible Railway Museum. The local T.I. offers very interesting walking tours. Happy travels!
As others have said, booking train tickets well in advance can get you discount fares. Here are the cheapest fares listed on the East Coast site for two adults and three children: London-York: £33.70 York-Edinburgh: £38.05 London-Edinburgh: £44.10 There is an allotted number of tickets at each discount fare level. When the cheapest tickets are gone, the price jumps to the next level so book ASAP. Discount fare tickets are for a specific departure date and time and are non-exchangeable and non-refundable so be sure you can commit before booking. You can sign up on the East Coast site to be notified by e-mail when booking opens for your travel date(s).
Greta, give yourself some extra time at the station in London to retrieve your tickets. It involves feeding the credit card used to buy the tickets into a ticket machine (this does not generate a charge), and entering the reference number given to you when you bought the tickets. You can also pick them up at a ticket counter from actual human beings, but there will be a queue. (I've always been able to pick up tickets a day or so before my travel day, which can be convenient. Also, you can probably request airmail delivery of the tickets so you have them before you leave.) The East Coast Line trains to Edinburgh (the best route from London) leave from Kings Cross Station. If you sit on the right side of the train, you'll get a few good views of a patch of the North Sea coast about an hour out of Edinburgh. (London-Edinburgh is about 4-1/2 hours.) York is great and very walkable. The town center is a very easy walk from the station (Exit and turn left). You could overnight, or arrive early in the morning, leave your bags at Left Luggage at the station, spend the day in York, and go on up to Edinburgh that evening after dinner. Victoria Station is safe. The area will be very crowded and busy during the morning and evening rush, so the usual precautions apply. Some bus lines do use stops that are not in the station, but are along nearby streets. (I'm not a fan of Tube travel with luggage in tow. It's tolerable with a carry-on, but, if it was me, with 5 people and their bags, I'd spring for a taxi to get to Kings Cross.)